Category: Instincts and Intuition Blog–(click on the photo below for the full post)

Musings by a subversive stitcher…. As I am a self-taught artist, you will not get a lot of academic theory or art history here, just me, trying to explain myself. Or at least ask good questions.

Going to The Show

My friend Lea McComas and I have been planning all year to take our books to Houston for the International Quilt Festival.  It is the biggest quilt show in the world, with about 60,000 attendees.  My quilt It’s a Jungle Out There will be in Houston as part of the Studio Art Quilt Associates’ Wild Fabrications show.  Check us out at BOOTH 2014 if you are going to the show.  We’ll be selling our books, and fabric kits.

Now, back to packing….

book and fabric

book and fabric

I will be selling my book, along with the great jungle fabric used to make a leafy 3-D quilt.

book and fabric






Fabric kits for Wild and Wonderful 3-D projects.

A Wild Winter Whirlwind

A Wild Winter Whirlwind

Wild and WonderfulIt has been a busy winter in the studio and a lot has happened since Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts debuted at Houston Quilt Festival last fall.

  • For starters, Brewer Sewing is now distributing the book to quilt shops.  Ask for it at your local quilt shop.
  • Individuals can buy the book from me at for the full $14.99 sticker price. (click here for more information)  I want to support local quilt shops and won’t undercut their prices online.
  • The National Quilting Association’s Quilting Quarterly will publish its book review this spring.
  • I hope to bring my 3-D quilting classes online later this summer. Stay tuned for details.
  • My friend Lea McComas and I are making plans to promote our books  at Houston Quilt Festival again this year.  It’s a Jungle Out There will be touring with the Studio Art Quilt Associates Wild Fabrications show, and Houston will be the first stop on the tour.
  • The National Quilting Association’s Quilting Quarterly will review my book in its next issue.  How cool is that?

Last but not least, I am going to the Chicago Quilt Festival this month to demonstrate my techniques at the free Open Studios booths on Thursday, March 26, and Saturday, March 28. Superior Threads will be selling Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts at the show, along with all their gorgeous threads.

Will I see you there?

Going to the Chicago Quilt Show…

Going to the Chicago Quilt Show…

I am delighted to be a part of the International Quilt Festival in Chicago next month.  I will be demonstrating techniques from my book Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts on Thursday and Saturday, March 26  and 28 as part of the Open Studios events.

Framed! I
Framed! I

It’s going to be great fun, and in between, I get to see my sister and wish my dad happy 85th birthday!  I just hope it warms up about 70* before then….

NEW: Shibori Salon Workshop Series

NEW: Shibori Salon Workshop Series

Please join me for my new workshop series.  I will open a second session on Tuesday afternoons if the Thursday sessions fill.  The Supply List is below.

shibori salon

Shibori Salon Supply List

Shibori is the Japanese word for using pressure (created by folding, stitching, clamping, or binding) to create patterns with dye on fabric or paper.  This is a survey course in Shibori with Procion dyes.  I will provide dye solutions in a variety of colors at each session, along with dye recipes and info on the dye process.  In later sessions, I will also provide a thiox discharge bath.  You will make several small fabric samples for future reference or for use in your work.

Required supplies (bring to each session):

A selection of silk, cotton, linen, and/or lightweight rayon  fabrics up to ½ yard pieces to start (you can work larger on a couple of pieces later if you wish).  Boring or ugly commercial fabrics and batiks may be good candidates for the kind of work we will be doing.  Bleached muslin or PFD fabric is fine, but you can also take fabrics out of your stash.  New or used clothing (whole or cut up) will work, but keep the pieces small to start.  You don’t need to ‘scour’ your fabrics in advance, but you can if you wish (blasphemy, I know).

Clamps (small C clamps or hardware clamps)

A large handful of rubber bands of various sizes

Hand sewing needle with a fairly large eye (I will provide thread)

Clamps (small C clamps or hardware clamps; many different kinds will work.)

Bamboo chopsticks (several clean pairs)

A large handful of rubber bands in various sizes

A handful of coins or small balls in different sizes

2-3 pairs of knee-hi stockings or panty hose.  Patterned is fine if that is what you have.

Ziplock bags (at least 5 in the one-gallon size, and 5 in the smaller size)


Several small and medium plastic containers with or without lids

Dishwashing gloves or medical gloves

Blue Dawn dishwashing detergent (you will need this at home to washout your samples)

ball of cotton or hemp twine or string, any weight

Please plan to wear old clothes and/or a smock, sturdy shoes, and a hand towel to use a a drip rag. 

If you wish to track your processes (i.e., dye color, manipulation, etc.) for each sample you make, bring a Sharpie pen and notebook to mark your fabrics and write your notes, or sew Tyvek strips to your fabrics and note the changes on the Tyvek.

Optional supplies (please bring these if you have them available):

18’’ (approximate) length of PVC pipe (3-6’’ in diameter)

5′ of 1″ polyester rope

Matching pairs of square, rectangular, or round plastic or wooden shapes

If you want to try dyeing paper, bring sheets of Abaca paper (brand name:  Tissuetex, available online at and other online shops.  This paper will not disintegrate in the dye solution or washout.  You are welcome to bring other papers for experimenting.  Test first for durability!)

**Pair of heavy duty rubber gloves

**Pair of silk glove liners (available at outdoor/hiking stores)

**Respirator  (link is here:

**You MUST bring these items if you wish to dishcharge fabrics yourself.  Otherwise, I will handle your fabrics for discharging.

Email me with questions at


Quilt Fiesta is here!

Quilt Fiesta is here!  As usual, I have been busy in the dye studio getting ready to stock my booth for the big show.  I look forward to this weekend all year.  It’s a chance to see my quilt ‘people’ and hang out at our booth with my friend Trish Hastings-Sargent.  Here are a few of the items that will be available at the the show….As always, I have some new styles and color combinations this year.  Hope to see you at the show!

Some new Shibori Chic scarves will be on offer...prices range from $30-$40.
Some new Shibori Chic scarves will be on offer…prices range from $30-$40.
Love the way this long sleeved T came out of the final dyebath....  It's one of a kind and $45
Love the way this long sleeved T came out of the final dyebath…. It’s one of a kind and $45.
This new twist-front shirt looks great with a scarf.
This new twist-front shirt looks great with a scarf.  $70 if you buy both ($30 for the scarf, $45 for the shirt)


A gorgeous one-of-a-kind rust, green, and gold turtleneck.  $45
A gorgeous one-of-a-kind rust, green, and gold turtleneck. $45
This $40 T has been through 3 dyebaths, and looks great with a beautiful, soft rayon knit infinity scarf ($45).
This $40 T has been through 3 dyebaths, and looks great with a beautiful, soft rayon knit infinity scarf ($45).
Pastel peach shirt $(45) and elegant drapey infinity scarf ($45).
Pastel peach shirt $(45) and elegant drapey infinity scarf ($45).


And of course, I will be selling my new book, Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts, too.
And of course, I will be selling my new book, Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts, too.

You are Invited to Chaos, Controlled: The Fiber Arts of Mary Vaneecke

maryvaneecke post card invit frontmaryvaneecke post card (1)Chaos Controlled:  The Fiber Arts of Mary Vaneecke features many new and small works as well as my shibori chic scarves and clothing.  Please come to the opening reception Saturday, January 10 from 7-9 pm.  I will give an artist talk on Saturday, January 31st at 2 pm.

Art House Centro Gallery is in Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave. (next to the Tucson Museum of Art).

Hope to see you there.  Here is a sneak peek of the hanging yesterday.  I love the small shibori ‘monoprint landscapes’ I just completed for the show (center).

chaos controlled hanging resized





Coin Toss

Coin Toss

This quilt is inspired by the wonderful fabrics (a shot cotton in burnt orange, and a navy New Aged Muslin by Marcus Brothers) and the traditional quilt pattern Chinese Coins.  A link to a 1940s Amish version is here.  I call it Coin Toss, and every time I think of the name, I want to ask, What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss? 

The use of negative space and plain fabrics just begs for fabulous quilting, and I tried to keep the tension of the perilously stacked coins going with the navy-on-navy background quilting.

Coin Toss, 2014, 44'' x 27''
Coin Toss, 2014, 44” x 27”
Coin Toss, detail
Coin Toss, detail

Missing Whidbey Island….

This was my view one sunny morning.  Coupeville on Penn Cove of Whidbey Island is a beautiful place.
This was my view one sunny morning last year. Coupeville on Penn Cove of Whidbey Island is a beautiful place.

So this is what I am missing this week:  5 days of dyeing fabric with the fabulous Elin Noble on beautiful Whidbey Island.  There is just too much on my plate (and maybe not enough in my wallet) right now to justify the time and expense:  Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts is about to be published, another book with Jane Dunnewold on dyeing is in the works, Quilt Market in Houston is less than 2 weeks away, Christmas and show quilts are due to customers, etc., etc., etc. (as the King of Siam might say).

But this photo will be my screensaver this week, ’cause a girl can dream, can’t she?  Serenity now…

What I did on my summer ‘vacation’

What I did on my summer ‘vacation’

Yeah, I know, I have not posted much here lately.  I was travelling.  And writing a book.  And working my fingers madly to the bone to finish some work for upcoming shows.

Book? You ask.  Yep.  When my 3-D monkey quilt was accepted in Quilt Festival at Houston this year, I realized that up 50,000 people are going to see that sucker.  And it was the most fun I have ever had making a quilt.  You know how you try something on a piece, but you are not sure it’s going to work?  And then you see, once it’s done, that it doesn’t work, and you have to try something to fix it?  That didn’t happen with this quilt.  It was one long, fun process from start to finish.  The quilt just makes me smile.  I wanted to share that with my quilting students.

I’d been toying with the idea of writing a book.  My friend Lea McComas was in the process of writing her thread painting book.   I decided to jump in with her and go for it.  We will be taking our respective tomes to Houston Market and Festival.  My Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts is in the final editing stage and will go to the graphic designer, my friend Janet Windsor soon.  More on that later.

For now, I leave you with some detail shots of 2 pieces that I recently finished.  For now, back to the quilt pile.

Weaving Traditions, detail
Weaving Traditions, detail
New Wave, detail
New Wave, detail


New Legacies Opening Reception, Friday, July 11, 5-7 pm

I am honored to be a part of this exhibition, curated by Carol Shinn, who does wonderful thread paintings.  I will be at the International Folk Art Festival in Santa Fe this weekend, and will miss the opening at the Lincoln Center Art Gallery in Fort Collins, CO.  Don’t you hate it when you can be in two places at once?

New Legacies 2014 at the Lincoln Center Art Gallery in Fort Collins, CO
New Legacies 2014 at the Lincoln Center Art Gallery in Fort Collins, CO


My piece, Off the Wall II, will be a part of the exhibition through August, so check it out if you are in Colorado.  It will be the first time it is seen publicly outside of Tucson.

Off the Wall II, detail
Off the Wall II, detail



The Blob: A Studio Horror Story

The Blob:  A Studio Horror Story

So yesterday, I was stitching away like mad on my Bernina, back and forth, preparing a large piece of fabric for some shibori patterning.  All of the sudden, Bernie (that is what I call her) slows to a halt.  I can’t seem to rotate the flywheel at all to take a stitch.  I wonder what gives.  This is not like Bernie to stop working all of the sudden.

Then I realize that while I was stitching like mad, the spool of thread I had been using to wind bobbins must have caught the wheel.  All that thread was winding onto and jamming up the machine.  In both directions I might add, not in just one.  How much thread, you ask?  This much thread:

The Blob, 2014 edition.
The Blob, 2014 edition.

It was a tedious 2+hours trying to remove it all.  See the skinny scissors?  There is a hand felting needle right next to it.  Those were the only 2 instruments I could find to slip between the machine and the flywheel to get at the thread.  There is still a few strands left, but Bernie is moving freely again.


Inquiring Minds Want to Know, and the Rest of the Story

Hmmmmm.  Just got an email that my quilt Off the Wall I is being returned to me today.  The day it was supposed to hang in National Quilting Association’s annual show. I checked my tracking number and FedEx says it was delivered during the required time period.

I requested via an email the reason for the return.  This should be interesting.  The show is not juried.  It accepts the first XXX number of quilts submitted.  I entered for the exposure of my 3D work.  I am wondering if it has anything to do with the 3D qualities of the piece.  Perhaps the cutouts were a factor.  Is it just too radical for the NQA quilt show, despite the fact that they published an article about it in their own quilting magazine???????

Of course, there is always the possibility that it was damaged in shipping.  I sure hope that is not the case.

I will keep you posted.  Meanwhile, I will try not to grind my teeth.

UPDATE:  Turns out the ‘rejection’ was a communication error.  Everyone whose quilts were to be returned via FedEx got the same email, that they were ‘shipped on May 23,’ the opening day of the show.  I feel sorry for the poor quilt show managers.  They must have gotten earfuls from people who thought there was something wrong with the quilts.  

…and they lived happily ever after.


'Off the Wall', 2012, 39.5'' x 26'' x 6''
‘Off the Wall’, 2012, 39.5” x 26” x 6”


Phases, 2014.  This 12” x 12” piece will be available for purchase through an auction of small art quilts to benefit the Studio Art Quilt Associates.  It was made with multiple discharge and over-dyeing processes using the shibori itajime technique on linen fabrics.  Handyed, machine stitched.  The fabric with green circular shapes is layered over the black and yellow linen.  Both layeres are quilted.   Black, yellow, green, and blue-green.


It’s a Jungle Out There

This whimsical piece uses my 3-D art quilt technique with commercial fabrics.  I call it It’s a Jungle Out There.  See this art quilt in IQA’s show in Houston in Fall 2015 as part of the SAQA travelling ‘Wild Fabrications’exhibition .  You can learn these techniques in one of my classes, or in my upcoming book, Wild and Wonderful 3-D Quilts.

It's a Jungle Out There, 47'' x 33'' x 7'' installed. Monkey included.
It’s a Jungle Out There, 47” x 33” x 7” installed. Monkey included.



It's a Jungle Out There, deta
It’s a Jungle Out There, detail

Fourth time’s a charm…

bus card
Off the Wall II, detail


Finally, after three rejections, Off the Wall II will be shown outside of my hometown.  Yippeeee!  And thank you, Lincoln Center for the Arts in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I was beginning to lose heart.  Here are the details on the show.  I am wondering if I can bunk with a Colorado buddy and catch the reception…


July 11 – August 30, 2014

Opening Reception: Friday, July 11, 5-7 p.m.

One of the premier contemporary quilt exhibits in the country, this national exhibit showcases the best work of artists who are pushing the limits of the medium, working with new techniques and materials, and creating breath-taking and beautiful art.

Modern Love

I love the so-called ‘Modern Quilt’ aesthetic:  clean design lines, simple fabrics, negative space (=quilting space, IMHO).  This is my first attempt at such a piece.  It is raw-edge fusible applique on a field of gray muslin.  Yes, I cut a hole in it.  I call it Modern Love. 

Modern Love, 2014, 64'' x 40''
Modern Love, 2014, 64” x 40”

Modern Love detail

When Inspiration Strikes

I heard about a wonderful new source of inspiration on a recent podcast of 99% Invisible.  The show features stories on design and architecture (check it out when you have a chance).  Show #106 was about the quatrefoil, a fancy shape you have seen a million times (think of four coins overlapping at the center).  The show mentions The Grammar of Ornament, by Owen Jones, published in 1868.  It’s apparently an encyclopedia of ornamental art from all ages and cultures.  The link provided takes you to free online copy.

It is fascinating to see how some designs have no geographical or cultural or even temporal borders.  They’re universal.

Quilters will recognize a lot of traditional quilt designs.  And you know I will be checking this out next time I need some inspiration.

An illustration from 'The Grammar of Ornament.'
An illustration from ‘The Grammar of Ornament.’

Radical Elements Opening

I got some photos of the opening of the Radical Elements show at the Cafritz Foundation Arts Center, Montgomery College Takoma Park, Silver Springs, Maryland, April 3-May 9, 2014.  I breathed a sigh of relief to see my piece hanging.  The space looks beautiful.  The signage is not great and I noticed that they did not install work as I instructed.  (In order to meet the shipping requirements, I could not have anything hanging off the edges.)  Oh well.  The piece should look like this:

Samarium 62:  No Relation, 36" x 24"
Samarium 62: No Relation, 36″ x 24″

Notice how the bottom left and top right edges have overhanging circles?  You won’t see those in the photo below.  Oh well.  Maybe the next venue will be better at the details.

radical elements opening
Do you think she’s taking a selfie with my piece in the background?




The Big Reveal….

The Radical Elements show is in Washington D.C. today at the National Academy of Sciences.  A link to information on the current venue is here.   Since the embargo on publishing photos of the works has been lifted, I can post a full view of the piece now.  Drum roll please….

Samarium 62:  No Relation, 36" x 24"
Samarium 62: No Relation, 36″ x 24″

Painted archival Tyvek embedded with silk fibers and medical gloves, layered with window screen with acrylic paint and medium screened into it.  The piece features cutouts and a 3D element, an S curve composition, and is quilted with magnets.  Embellished with electric guitar strings.

detail, 'Samarium 62:  No Relation'
detail, ‘Samarium 62: No Relation’